Heineken City Arts Festival, a four-day music and arts fest hosted by the free culture magazine, is back for its third year and it's literally all over the map. With no centralized location, concerts are clustered in three neighborhoods: Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and SoDo (technically Showbox SoDo, all alone out there on the fringe). So rather than ask which acts to see, the real question is: Where should you be?
Here are our suggestions for where to park yourself each night, October 17–20:
Wednesday – Downtown
Opening night of the festival is all about its headliners: David Byrne and St. Vincent at 5th Avenue Theatre. The duo’s much hyped horn-filled collaboration, Love This Giant, lived up to expectations and Byrne’s odd energy is always something to marvel at live. Since Wednesday’s lineup isn’t as densely packed, it's defensible to just stay downtown for one show and the after-party (though if you can’t score a ticket, seeing Brother Ali or Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band at Neumos/Barboza on Capitol Hill would be a fine consolation prize).
Thursday – Downtown
Choosing between Lemolo’s dreamy tones at the Triple Door and the haunting odes of the Elliott Smith tribute show (featuring Josiah Johnson of the Head and the Heart, Kris Orlowski, Star Anna, and more) at the Can Can is an unenviable task. Then again, it's a no-lose situation. This night also marks the first Laser Dome show of the festival, and it’d be hard to find a band better suited to playing the atypical venue than Ghostland Observatory. The Austin outfit's immensely danceable funk rock should turn the Pacific Science Center into the Party Dome.Friday – Downtown
Variety reigns downtown as Omar Rodriguez Lopez (At the Drive-In, Mars Volta) and Crypts make things weird at the Triple Door; Showbox at the Market hosts one of Portland's most sucessful indie folk acts—and considering how many there are, that's saying something—Blind Pilot; singer-songwriter Tiny Vipers brings her quiet, emotionally heavy tunes to Rendezvous; and the underappreciated local indie rockers Land of Pines play the Crocodile. And speaking of reigns, seeing Reignwolf’s fretboard assault at the Laser Dome should be dynamite.
Saturday – Capitol Hill
Finish the fest by rocking the night away at Neumos and Barboza. Seattle's finest Rolling Stones cover band—copyright-cringy "the Rolling Stones" (fronted by ex-Blood Brothers vocalist Jordan Blilie—starts at 9 at Barboza; at 10:45 upstairs in Neumos, get a raw dose of killer blues rock from My Goodness, then head into Sunday with longtime local favorites the Maldives.